10 Most Underrated Challenge Moments

Last week I wrote about the 10 most overrated Challenge moments. Today, I wrote about the 10 most underrated Challenge moments. Some of these may be forgotten, some of these may be lost significance moments, and some are moments people truly didn’t understand in the moment. I hope you enjoy!

10 Kailah pushing Tony to vote Bananas in on Vendettas

I feel like Devin gets the credit for his calling his shot when Kailah was the one who actually influenced Tony into turning on Bananas and voting him into elimination. Devin’s wanted Bananas for a long time, and Kailah pushed Tony into a decision which made him look like a true man for the first time. This move is underrated because even though Bananas curse is said to have started after his Rivals 3 win, I truly believe this is where the game shifted out of his favor. On Dirty 30 and Invasion, Bananas went into elimination via a process of elimination — bad luck.

Kailah and Tony shifted the paradigm of the game, and we’ve now seen multiple people take shots at Bananas early and play the game. Bananas cannot coast anymore, and if you could not tell from his interactions with Kailah on Final Reckoning and social media, he HATES Kailah. It’s because she didn’t bow to him and from here on out, Bananas’s Challenge career will never be the same.

9 Nehemiah eliminating Kenny on the Duel 1

Kenny was on 8 seasons of the Challenge. He made the Final 7 times and won three seasons. Say it out loud to yourself, 7 finals in 8 eight seasons. Kenny Santucci dominated an era of the Challenge, and the only time he did not make the final, it was due to Nehemiah calling him out into elimination and taking him out with ease.

Despite Kenny not being a dominant physical competitor like Landon or CT, his record is pristine besides this one elimination. Nehemiah is one of the great underrated competitors in Challenge history. He was the last African American winner of any season and consistently performed well even in losses. Nehemiah almost eliminated Evan on the Duel 2; however, Evan was not penalized for breaking the rules of the elimination multiple times.

Imagine if Nehemiah had been able to beat both Kenny and Evan? Not only that, but if Evan doesn’t win the Duel 2 then he’s not on the Champs team for the Ruins.

8 Ty eliminating Abram on Exes 1

This elimination is known for Abram going full psycho mode in Pole Wrestle against Ty to win the elimination for himself and Cara Maria. After Abram won the first round, Ty shocked people with a quick round two victory and then gave his all to win round three. People remember Abram for being a beast who was ready to go for more rounds; meanwhile, Ty was dead in the sand and completely gassed out.

Abram’s theatrics and words following the elimination completely stole the moment from Ty … who ya know, came back from down 1–0 to beat a Challenge Hall of Famer in a physical elimination. Ty, who for two straight seasons had been a popcorn muscles guy after getting thoroughly beaten in two consecutive eliminations in fashion, now took out Abram. Yet, we all remember it as Abram’s moment. That’s fucking wild.

7 Mitch’s Puzzle Prowess on Bloodlines

I’ll say this; Mitch is low-key one of my all-time favorite Challengers. He was a completely normal California bro who ended up on the Challenge because of his cousin Cory and performed super well out of nowhere. Mitch won multiple daily challenges, won an elimination, hooked up with a girl, fell asleep in numerous clubs, and finished 2nd place all in one season! MITCH! He is that bitch.

Despite being near the bottom of the crop as a male athlete, Mitch proved why being intelligent and having a unique strength is more important than being the second or third strongest guy. In the Challenge, alpha males represent a considerable portion of the cast, and thus, you need to be an exceptional athlete to be at the top of the crop. Seriously, if CT, Zach, Jordan, or someone like that is on the cast, it’s tough to stand out even if you’re a good athlete. Mitch wasn’t a bad athlete and was able to carry his weight, but when the puzzles came his way, he proved himself as an accountant and graduate of the top public university in the US. Mitch solved puzzles that took people half an hour in seconds. He demonstrated what an actual smart person could do on the Challenge, and displayed that most of the Challengers are not bright crayons whatsoever.

6 Bananas voting Cara Maria in on Free Agents

I thought I was overrating this underrated moment at first, and then as I began to outline the arguments, this one feels underrated on this list. I genuinely believe Bananas voting Cara Maria into elimination with a broken hand is much worse than him taking the money from Sarah.

If you don’t remember the situation, Cara Maria broke her hand in an elimination. At final 5, Bananas and Nany won the daily challenge and had to choose between voting Theresa or Cara Maria into elimination. Nany, a decent human being, refused to vote for Cara because she literally broke her hand two days earlier. Bananas chose to vote in Cara and forced Nany into voting Cara when TJ stated if they could not break the stalemate, they’d automatically go into elimination. I understand Bananas and Cara had an antagonistic relationship at the time … However, she BROKE her hand two days ago, was not in the same gender competition pool as him, likely would not be in power again considering she had a broken hand, and he had no allegiance to Theresa.

He was just a petty bitch.

5 Alton volunteering for elimination on the Inferno 3

The name of the game in the Challenge is to stay out of elimination. If you never go into elimination, then you never have a chance of losing and will likely go home with a good paycheck. Do you know what Alton said about such an idea? Nah, fuck that, imma go in this elim, win, and keep team morale high.

He won the team life shield guaranteeing himself safety and volunteered himself for rookie Davis. Alton’s selfless move was a colossal flex. I know he faced one of the worst Challenge competitors ever, but anything can happen in elimination, and we’ve seen huge upsets before. Alton is a BOSS.

4 Amanda and Zach volunteering for elimination due to inter-team fighting on Final Reckoning

This is the most underrated recent moment. I don’t think people realize how huge this moment is in Challenge history. Zach and Amanda were the front-runners and had won 4 daily challenges (two more than the next best team). They continued to pick up win after win and complimented each other perfectly. Except they hated each other and refused to work with one another politically. Amanda had an alliance, and Zach had Tony; however, Tony’s partner was Bananas who Amanda’s alliance was entirely against. In the end, neither side budged, and they paid the punishment.

Do you know how incredibly stubborn two people have to be to volunteer themselves for elimination when they won immunity? Now, had they faced DaVonne and Jozea, there’s a good chance they win the elimination, return to the game and move on, or are disqualified due to Zach’s injury (in the case he gets injured again). Except the Mercenary Twist resulted in their elimination and then medical DQ.

It was easily one of the biggest bonehead moves in Challenge history as they threw away a potential win. Ashley and Hunter were the B- version of Amanda and Zach on Final Reckoning, and they won the season. I think what hurts this moment is the length of Final Reckoning burying its relevance, and then how much has gone on between Zach and Amanda over the last couple years.

3 Mandy and Wes getting nominated for elimination by a team who was DQ’d the same day

During Battle of the Exes 1, Vinny ripped Mandy’s top off during a night at the club, exposing her breasts. I’m 99% sure that’s sexual assault under the basic terms. Now, here’s where it gets fucked up. Vinny and Sarah won the daily challenge that day. The next day they voted Mandy and Wes into elimination. The same man who ripped her topped off proceeded to vote her into elimination.

A few hours later, Vinny and Sarah were disqualified and told to go home because the tapes revealed that Vinny had done it purposefully. Even worse, instead of canceling the elimination, Wes and Mandy still had to compete after all the trauma and ended up getting eliminated. We already had a team get eliminated that day, why do we need to keep the DQ’d teams nominations? Couldn’t they allow the second place team to make a choice instead if they were going to have an elimination?

2 The Rope challenge from Invasion of the Champions

I don’t know if you all remember, but there was a daily challenge on Invasion where there was a giant wooden slippery panel that would tilt, so the only way a player could remain above the wall was by holding onto one of the two ropes attached to the middle of the giant wooden panel. In this daily challenge, we saw two extraordinary circumstances occur:

  1. Bananas hit the water first instead of CT by a fraction of a second. If CT hits the water first, he must face Darrell in Balls In. I don’t know who wins that elimination because Darrell is a beast, and CT is a monster. Regardless, one of them would have to face Johnny Bananas in Knot So Fast, an elimination he has won in the past. Bananas, Darrell, or CT all could have realistically won Invasion, and that watershed moment tipped the luck scales towards CT. Amazing.
  2. Camila ties her rope around her neck in a very dangerous fashion in this elimination, though it allowed her to get the win over Cara Maria which forced a Laurel vs Cara elimination. Now, it’s unclear whether Camila was allowed to do such a thing, and because of that, if Camila faces Laurel in Balls In, then we likely get Laurel v Cara elimination in Knot So Fast where Laurel’s endurance was not great. Although, I don’t know if Laurel would have given up if she was facing Cara. If Cara stays in, she likely beats Laurel, and her entire Challenge career is viewed completely differently. She ties Wes for the elimination win record, makes her fifth final in nine seasons, and maybe wins the whole season. Or, Laurel refuses to lose, continues her streak and becomes 10–0 in eliminations, and cements her status as the most dominant player ever.

1 Derrick and Diem turning on their alliance and nominating Darrell/Aviv and Theo/Chanda

When people talk about Challenge turning points, I think this is the exact moment where the show went from a fun show with competition to a competition show with fun elements. Derrick and Diem had been nominated with the two other veteran teams Darrell/Aviv and Theo/Chanda for most of the game. They were three strong veteran males with good partners who could dominate the game and go to the final together.

When Coral/Evan got medically removed from the game, it opened the game for all the teams, and nobody understood the urgency of the moment quite like Diem. She pushed Derrick into them making a move and throwing Theo/Chanda into elimination, which allowed two weaker teams the opportunity to vote Darrell/Aviv into facing them to force two strong teams into elimination. Fresh Meat 1 was the first true pairs season, and the competition level rose because people were not making moves for the sake of the team and individual winnings were much higher than usual. Diem got cutthroat, and it changed how people would ever play the game.

Unfortunately, this move backfired against them as Darrell/Aviv won the lifesaver, and they were forced to put Kenny/Tina in elimination. Luckily. Kenny and Tina won their elimination in a massive upset. The best part about this move is it forced Theo Vonn to wear a near brace to the reunion to represent himself being spiritually broken down by Derrick.

Of all the big political/game moves in Challenge history, this is the one that changed the landscape of the show.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Allan Aguirre

26 years old. I blog about MTV's the Challenge and will dabble into other subjects occasionally. Follow me on Twitter for the occasional bad joke.